The Hanger and the Hanged, 2005

I

The Hangers all were happy
until they became the Hanged.
Utopia was line for line,
not one forgotten page.

There were no words of blasphemy,
until a week before the walk;
when a sleepy preacher,
thought he heard,
a drunk agnostic talk.

“There doesn’t have to be,”
he said, “above us, anywhere,
a God of any origin,
who shows us any care.
No need for Heaven,
no need for hell;
there is no need for fear.
If we all could love each other,
we would have Heaven here.”
These words,
for a sleepy man,
were terrible to hear

“A Commandment broken,”
he rose to shout.
“Contact the office now.
He broke the law.
He must be punished;
that is our sacred vow.”

II

They took the steps they had to take,
and put the man away.
First in a cell,
and then a noose,
and then a beggars grave;
No one there,
and no one cared.
He played Hangman,
with a word called faith.

The news replayed the tape that day,
broadcast to every home.
They told of his crime and death.
they babbled on and on.
The louse was punished,
The evil gone;
The hangmen reap as they have sewn.

The world is just a prison yard,
where inmates run the show,
and no one is in charge—
where no one dares to dream.
And up above,
the Watchman shrugs,
and nods back into sleep.

III

Children clapped,
and monk’s applaud;
they marched a fool’s parade.
They themselves,
at last, became,
the Hanger’s and the Hanged.

Within a week, a lost child found,
his way into the Church.
“Excuse me father,” said the child,
“Yes?” he asked.
“I’d really like to know:
why was the Hangman punished so?”

The preacher fumbled, then
thought a moment.
“Because he sinned, my son.
You must not have heard.”
“I’ve heard plenty,” said the
child.
“This was from Father learned.”
He gave the man a book.
Then he took the preacher’s hand,
and showed him where to look.

Thou shall not kill,
the Good Book said.
His holy highness sighs.
He felt despair,
replace the air,
and gave his alibis.

“Thou shall not kill,
the law is broken.
The Hanger will be hung.”
They took him from his quiet home,
and threw him in a hole.
The next day,
with the fool’s parade,
he walked to the gallows pole.

IV

“Thou shall not kill,”
was sung in songs,
within the growing line.
And ten people,
every hour,
were punished for their crimes.
Each Hanging the Hanger
for hanging the Hanged;
the Road to God was paved.

Thou shall not kill,
became the phrase,
painted on their signs.
One after another,
to kill themselves,
they formed the line.
It stretched across the world,
and all the doomed marched on.
Broadcast across the nation,
and played in emptied homes.

The line remained until one man,
began to see the pile.
One Hangman atop another,
into the sky for miles.
He looked at those who died in line,
and at the signs they held.
Then the last man,
in the land,
put the noose around himself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s